Jonathan Banks

Crazies, Bad Guys, and Frank McPike

Biography: Wiseguy

 (All quotes are from JB. Codes link to bibliography of interviews.)

Frank is born
In 1987 he began the role of Frank McPike on Wiseguy. "I'm not sure I'll feel at home playing a TV good guy. But I'll make certain he has some quirks that will make viewers a little uneasy." (UP87) "Let's make him somebody you don't like. Let's get a good guy you don't like." (WT88) "You don't lead me into playing a good guy very easily. I would have a tough time making McPike completely good." (NJW88) A Secret Service agent approached him during a White House tour, and told him, "You (McPike) are the biggest sleazebag," which pleased him. (WP88)

Liking Frank
In 1988 he said, "I like Frank. I like Frank when Frank's up against it. I think I like his quarrelsomeness the most. That he is irritable. That he is a guy that wakes up and hates going to the cleaners and hates the noise of the kids and the color of the carpet, and he still goes out and does his job. And at the same time I think if Frank saw a lost dog in the neighborhood, he'd try to ignore it and couldn't." And also, "I think there is a time bomb somewhere in Frank that nobody has pushed. This is a man who has pulled the trigger before and wouldn't think twice about pulling it again because that's the discipline and the training he's had." He is intrigued by "what it does to [Frank] to have ever been brutal. It's just what I see from my friends, that they don't walk away from that unaffected. Something happens when they've been involved with violence. You can see the age on their faces for the rest of their lives." (WT88)

Villain envy
While enjoying Frank, he said of Wiseguy, "I've been jealous of every villain that's been on this show... Some great roles have rolled through here. But a lot of times my character doesn't even come in contact with them." By the end of two seasons, he still liked Frank, but said, "I've never done a character for so long and he does go home with me at times." (USA89-1) "I think he's very human. He loses his hair. He doesn't look right. He feels uncomfortable in places. He's wrong a lot. His family life's not the best. And he wants it to be. He wants all those things to be right. But life's a bitch." (GG89) In 1989, asked about Frank as a good guy, he said, "He's not that good. And he's pretty rough around the edges, and acerbic, and an old grump, and I like him a lot." (PS89) As of 1990 "Call it Casaba" was his favorite Wiseguy episode. (MOW90)

Honors
In 1989 he was Emmy-nominated for the role. "It beats a sharp stick in the eye." He received an outpouring of support from the Cannell organization (Cannell shows, though often ratings winners, have rarely garnered awards) but said, "I honestly expect nothing." (USA89-2) (The award went to Larry Drake of LA Law.)

On May 6-7, 1988, he was in the Washington area to help kick off National Police Week. Saturday he was a guest with federal, state and local law enforcement officers at a dinner commending the Policeman and Fireman of the Year. On Sunday, "Jonathan Banks Day" in Greenbelt, Maryland, he received a proclamation from the mayor and was made an honorary police officer in the department where his friends Cisser and Meiklejohn are officers. In his acceptance speech he said, "I have never felt so welcomed and I've certainly never been so honored." "I'm very moved." (WT88) To thank them, he established in "Stairway to Heaven" that McPike's career had started with the Greenbelt PD (MS90)

On August 13-14, 1988, he appeared at the fourth annual Children's Festival of the Arts, at Barnsdall Park, Los Angeles. The event, cosponsored by Stephen J. Cannell Productions and the Hollywood Arts Council, gave children a behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment business. (Los Angeles Times, 8/11/1988)

Moving On
Wiseguy ended in December 1991, and he returned to film and television guest roles, usually as villains, including Freejack with Mick Jagger. The Los Angeles Times quoted his comment at the Freejack premiere party: "Does anyone ever actually know anyone at these parties? Do they always just stand around like this?" (1/20/1992 E:3:1)

GO TO: Early Years University Early Roles Bad Guys Wiseguy Since Wiseguy

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